Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Debating the Multi-site Model

Does ekklesia mean "assembly"?

Gregg Allison responds to Mark Dever's comments early in this video clip:
An assembly is certainly in view when Paul addresses celebrating the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34) and regulates the exercise of speaking in tongues and prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:26-40) when the church is gathered together. But ekklÄ“sia cannot mean “assembly” in Acts 8:1, for example, when Luke’s point is that the church was “scattered”—not assembled—because of persecution. In fact, the word church can refer to meetings of Christians in houses (Acts 12:12), the church in a city (1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1), all the believers in a region (Acts 9:31), the universal church (1 Corinthians 10:32), and even the saints already in heaven (Hebrews 12:23). Saying that the word ekklÄ“sia means “assembly” commits a lexical error. (READ ON)

Jonathan Leeman responds to Allison:
 [Allison] says that "saying that the word ekklesia means 'assembly' commits a lexical error" since the word is used in the New Testament in places where no assembly is present, such as Acts 8:3: "But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged men and women..." Allison's surely right to observe that the word "church" in a text like this one refers to the church scattered, not gathered. But the multi-site argument actually requires something more. It requires one to say that a church can be a church even if the sites never gather (again, an assembly that never actually assembles). As I look at the text, I would say that the word "church" is used like the word "team." A basketball team (meaning the members of the team) can be gathered or they can be scattered. But the point is, they aren't a team if they never actually gather. The gathering is one aspect of what constitutes a team as a team and a church as a church. (READ ON)

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